We are digging into the Far Out vault to look back at one of the incendiary artists of the glam rock age, the incredible Lou Reed, despite his curious position. In 1973 Lou Reed was at an unusual moment in his career. He had achieved what all prominent members of formerly iconic bands dream of accomplishing and had successfully transitioned to acclaimed solo performer. Yet it wasn’t all hunky-dory.
His album, Transformer, produced by none other than David Bowie, had been a roaring success and had seen Reed become a desirable name in Europe. Much of the album’s success came via his outsider anthem, ‘Walk on the Wild Side’. It was a position the alternative and subversive Reed was a little uncomfortable with.
The song had seen Reed ride alongside Bowie and Iggy Pop as the darker side of glam rock. It not only captured the alt-pop gold of his days with the Velvet Underground but also highlighted his innate connection and understanding with the underbelly of society. It was an intriguing prospect that gathered fans from across Europe ready to receive his Rock and Roll Animal tour.
One stop, in particular, will go down as one of the most engrossing Reed performances of all time, when he arrived to perform at the Parisian venue, Olympia in September 1973. While his latest album, Berlin, had been a concept record about the perils of two lovers in the city, it hadn’t quite matched up to the success of Transformer and was widely panned at the time.
Though this evaluation has since changed with time, it meant when he arrived in France, the audience still clamoured for Reed’s signature song. It was not a position he enjoyed. At all. It is this Lou Reed that we see in the video below. A perfect image of a man caught between a host of different paths, all begging for his attention. Sure, he had left the Velvet Underground and established himself in his own right, he’d even had a hit record, but somehow people still didn’t understand him.
That feeling resulted in performances that were embroiled with intensity and passion as well as misunderstanding and isolation. Taking the stage with his skull-like make-up, Reed was feeling every bit of the exposed bone he portrayed. During a set in which he tried to ascertain the same love for Berlin as he had received for his Transformer tracks, Reed looks a little crazed by the attention ‘Walk on the Wild Side’ receives.
The footage below sees Reed sitting on the stage and meandering through the track while maintaining a menacing stare and a growing disdain for the song. For some reason, it makes for an engrossing watch as Reed battles with the industry’s inability to understand his art.
Take a look below at Lou Reed’s crazed performance of ‘Walk on the Wild Side’ in Paris, 1973.